Kids will get more support this year, both when struggling academically or struggling with health issues, due to a slight increase in revenue for the Monroe School District this year.
State and federal government, as well as local funding to the district increased by about $2.5 million this year. About $1.1 million is going to be absorbed by increasing costs of things the district is already doing, said School District Superintendent Ken Hoover. Those expenses include step increases for teachers and other staff, among other things.
That left about $1.4 million for the district to spend.
That’s not a huge increase; it equals about two percent of the nearly $70 million budget, but it will fund some additional staff and programs.
Among the higher-cost new budget items this year is a return to half-day kindergarten from alternating full days.
Frank Wagner Elementary, because of its high level of low-income families, has a federal grant for all-day, every-day kindergarten. At three other schools, parents can pay tuition for all-day, everyday kindergarten if they wish.
Otherwise, in recent years, children have had kindergarten two full days every week, and a third full day every other week.
That saved the district money, because it reduced the amount of transportation that was required to bus kids back and forth.
This year, however, the district is spending $100,000 on the extra transportation to bus kindergarteners for half-day kindergarten.
More teachers and options
The district is also spending $420,000 to bring in the equivalent of 4.8 full-time new teachers. And there is additional counselor time in the budget this year, as well as increased nursing support.
“And certainly there’s more staffing to help with people learning English as a new language,” said school district spokesperson Rosemary O’Neil.
The Sky Valley Education Center is also getting a full-time certified teacher. And Frank Wagner Elementary and Chain Lake Elementary will share a new assistant principal. Also, the Dual Language program at Frank Wagner Elementary, in which all kids whose families chose that option learn in both English and Spanish, is entering its third year, meaning that the program is adding another grade level as the kids move forward.
Success Coordinator and Scheduler
One of the new expenditures this year is $40,000 for a success coordinator to help kids who are struggling academically at the high school level. The district has had success helping high school freshmen through a program that engages upperclassmen in helping freshmen orient to high school, and a lunchtime organization program has helped, too, said O’Neil.
“A new piece is someone who track stats,” she said. “it can be a challenge to keep track of them all.”
The district is also adding a scheduler to help counselors be more effective.
“It’s someone to help monitor; to help kids stay on track,” said O’Neil.